Psychedelic Mother’s Day: Maria Sabina

Mums? They’re the best aren’t they? Whether you have one, are one, or have just seen them on the telly — they always seem to save the day. It doesn’t seem fair they only get one day a year, what with being the nurturers of the whole world basically. Be they a mama dog adopting a lion cub, Marge putting up with Bart (and Homer’s) nonsense, or your own mum bringing you soup when you’re sick, is it possible to give them enough credit?

The Mother Of Psychedelics

Maybe your mumma warned you against psychedelics ? (she’d be behind them if she’d read all the latest research!) Maybe like my mumma she told you they were a must have experience? Regardless, today we are gonna talk about the mother OF psychedelics. Or at least, the women who brought them to the attention of the Western world.

Introducing Shrooms To The World

 Yes, Maria Sabina — (1894 – 1985) the famed Maztec curandera from Southern Mexico. A curandera is a traditional native healer or shaman. Their lifes task is to administer cures for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical illness. To do their work as an intermediary between the physical and spiritual worlds, curanderas often use psychedelic plant medicines like magic mushrooms or ayahuasca. Sabina’s sacred healing mushroom ceremonies, called veladas, were made globally famous by the American banker and ethnomycologist  R. Gordon Wasson in 1957. He and his wife Valentina, a scientist and paediatrician, visited Sabina in 1955 where they participated in one of her veladas, the first known Westerners to do so. They left with spores of the Psilocybe mexicana taking them back to Paris, and cultivating them there. In 1958, Albert Hoffman (creator of LSD) would isolate the psychoactive ingredient of the shroom, psilocybin. 

A year before that however, in 1957, Wasson authored an article about his experience under the guidance of Sabina, which was published in Life magazine, titled Seeking The Magic Mushroom. In the original article Sabina’s name and location was not revealed.

Photograph from Life Magazine 1957

But, in a later publishing —where he revealed that the now world famous velada with Sabina had not been his first rodeo, mushroom-wise — Wasson also revealed Sabina’s name and location. By 1962 people were travelling across the world to Sabina’s home of Hualta de Jimenez to experience the fabled veladas. They consisted of a strange mix of scientists and hippies (hey, it was the ‘60s). It is said that Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and John Lennon and even Walt Disney all ‘visited’ Sabina, and though these visits have never been confirmed, they only intensified the mythology.  

The Price Of ‘Fame’

This flurry of interest had many drawbacks for Maria Sabina. She felt as though her sacred gift of the mushrooms had lost its purity, stating:

“Before Wasson, nobody took the children simply to find God. They were always taken to cure the sick.”

The floods of visitors clamouring to see her angered her community as they threatened their Maztec customs — this culminated with the burning down of her house as punishment. The Mexican police believed her to be a drug dealer, bringing yet more unwanted attention to the community. Eventually, in 1967, the Mexican army set up guard around the roads to the village, and life returned somewhat to normal. 

Psychedelic Meeting

A fascinating meeting of psychedelic behemoths occurred in 1962, when Albert Hofmann travelled to Mexico with Wasson to meet with Maria Sabina and gift her some psilocybin pills he had synthesised. Sabina reported that she found little difference between the effects of the pills, and the shrooms themselves, saying that the pills contained the ‘spirit’ of the mushroom. High praise indeed, Hofmann! 

Sacred Children

Maria Sabina Magdalena Garcia’s memory is somewhat conflicted. Though many see her as a sacred figure, who bequeathed her spiritual and healing gifts to the world, some see her as a reminder that the modern world is harsh, and sometimes does not show respect to the ancient ways. Sabina learnt that at her peril. Perhaps the best way to remember her is through the verses and songs she created for her veladas — when she was acting as the bridge between the real and spirit world, her true role. Now thought of as one of Mexico’s greatest poets — she was writing songs under the influence of psychedelics faaaar before The Beatles got in on the act — she always credited her ‘sacred children’ (what she called the mushrooms) with her inspiration. Below is one of her poems:

Below is one of her poems:

Cure yourself with the light of the sun and the rays of the moon.

With the sound of the river and the waterfall.

With the swaying of the sea and the fluttering of birds.

Heal yourself with mint, with neem and eucalyptus.

Sweeten yourself with lavender, rosemary, and chamomile.

Hug yourself with the cocoa bean and a touch of cinnamon.

Put love in tea instead of sugar, and take it looking at the stars.

Heal yourself with the kisses that the wind gives you and the hugs of the rain.

Get strong with bare feet on the ground and with everything that is born from it.

Get smarter every day by listening to your intuition, looking at the world with the eye of your forehead.

Jump, dance, sing, so that you live happier.

Heal yourself, with beautiful love, and always remember: you are the medicine.

So this mother’s day, remember to be a ‘sacred child’ and send your mum some flowers. OR sprout some sacred children of your own using one of our magic mushroom grow kits!

And check out our awesome Maria Sabina infographic on Youtube for a bitesize Mother’s Day treat!

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone! 

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